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yet he decides boldly and justly. His tact is, in truth, the result of a great number of impressions, of which he is now unconscious, which gives him a kind of intuitive power to arrive at once at the right conclusion. Its effects do not make a show in the newspapers; but they are very eloquent in the sheriff's office, and in the rolls of the court. Besides exerting these qualities, a leader may render his statements not only perspicuous but elegant; relieves the dulness of a cause by wit not too subtle; and sometimes enliven the court by a momentary play of fancy. To describe Mr. Erskine, when at the bar, is to ascertain the highest intellectual eminence to which a barrister, under the most favourable circumstances, may safely aspire. He had no imaginative power, no originality of thought, no great comprehension of intellect, to encumber his progress. Inimitable as pleadings, his corrected speeches supply nothing which, taken apart from its context and the occasion, is worthy of a place in the memory. Their most brilliant passages are but common places exquisitely wrought, and curiously adapted to his design. Had his mind been pregnant with greater things, teeming with beautiful images, or, indued with deep wisdom, he would have been less fitted to shed lustre on the ordinary feelings and transactions of life. If he had been able to answer Pitt without fainting, or to support Fox without sinking into insignificance, he would not have been the delight of special juries, and the glory of the Court of King's Bench. For that sphere, his powers, his acquisitions, and his temperament, were exactly framed. He brought into it, indeed, accomplishments never displayed there before in equal perfection—glancing wit, rich humour, infinite grace of action, singular felicity of language, and a memory elegantly stored, yet not crowded with subjects of classical and fanciful illustration. Above his audience, he was not beyond their sight, and he possessed rare facilities of raising them to his own level. In this purpose, he was aided by his connexion with a noble family, by a musical voice, and by an eloquent eye, which enticed men to forgive, and even to admire his natural polish and refined allusions. But his moral qualities tended even more to win them. Who could resist a disposition overflowing with kindness, animal spirits as elastic as those of a school-boy, and a love of gaiety and
pleasure which shone out amidst the most anxious labours ? His very weaknesses became instruments of fascination. His egotism, his vanity, his personal frailties, were all genial, and gave him an irresistible claim to sympathy. His warmest colours were drawn not from the fancy but the affections. If he touched on the romantic, it was on the little chapter of romance which belongs to the most hurried and feverish life. The unlettered clown, and the assiduous tradesman, understood him when he revived some bright recollection of childhood, or brought back on the heart the enjoyments of old friendship, or touched the chord of domestic love and sorrow. He wielded with skill and power the weapons which precedent supplied, but he rarely sought for others. When he defended the rights of the subject, it was not by abstract disquisition, but by freshening up anew the venerable customs and immunities which he found sanctioned by courts and parliaments, and infusing into them new energy. He entrenched himself within the forms of pleading, even when he ventured to glance into literature and history. These forms he rendered dignified as a fence against oppression, and cast on them sometimes the playful hues of his fancy. His pow. ers were not only adapted to his sphere, but directed by admirable discretion and taste. In small causes he was never betrayed into exaggeration, but contrived to give an interest to their details, and to conduct them at once with dexterity and grace. His jests told for arguments; his digressions only threw the jury off their guard that he might strike a decisive blow ; his audacity was always wise. His firmness was no less under right direction than his weaknesses. He withstood the bench, and rendered the bar immortal service; not so much by the courage of the resistance, as by the happy selection of its time, and the exact propriety of its manner. He was, in short, the most consummate advocate of whom we have any trace; he left his profession higher than he found it; and yet, beyond its pale, he was only an incomparable companion, a lively pamphleteer, and a weak and superficial debater !
Mr. Scarlett, the present leader of the Court of King's Bench, has less brilliancy than his predecessor, but is not perhaps essentially inferior to him in the management of causes. He studiously disclaims imagination; he rarely addresses the
passions ; but he now and then gives indications which prove that he has disciplined a mind of considerable elegance and strength to Nisi Prius uses. In the fine tact of which we have already spoken, the intuitive power of common sense sharpened within a peculiar circle; he has no superior, and perhaps no equal. He never betrays anxiety in the crisis of a cause, but instantly decides among complicated difficulties, and is almost always right. He can bridge over a nonsuit with insignificant facts, and tread upon the gulf steadily but warily to its end. What Johnson said of Burke's manner of treating a subject is true of his management of a cause," he winds himself into it like a great serpent.” He does not take a single view of it, nor desert it when it begins to fail, but throws himself into all its windings, and struggles in it while it has life. There is a lucid arrangement, and sometimes a light vein of pleasantry and feeling in his opening speeches; but his greatest visible triumph is in his replies. These do not consist of a mere series of ingenious remarks on conflicting evidence; still less of a tiresome examination of the testimony of each witness singly; but are as finely arranged on the instant, and thrown into as noble and decisive masses, as if they had been prepared in the study. By a vigorous grasp of thought, he forms a plan and an outline, which he first distinctly marks, and then proceeds to fill up with masterly touches. When a case has been spread over half a day, and apparently shattered by the speech and witnesses of his adversary, he will gather it up, condense, concentrate, and render it conclusive. He imparts a weight and solidity to all that he touches. Vague suspicions become certainties, as he exhibits them; and circumstances light, valueless, and unconnected till then, are united together, and come down in wedges which drive conviction into the mind. Of this extraordinary power, his reply on the first trial of “ The King v. Collins," where he gained the verdict against evidence and justice, was a wonderful specimen. If such a speech is not an effort of genius, it is so much more complete than many works which have a portion of that higher faculty, that we almost hesitate to place it below them. Mr. Scarlett, in the debate on the motion relative to the Chancellor's attack on Mr. Abercrombie, showed that he has felt it necessary to bend his mind considerably to the routine of his practice.
He was then surprised into his own original nature; and forgetting the measured compass of his long adopted voice and manner, spoke out in a broad northern dialect, and told daring truths which astonished the house. It is not thus, however, that he wins verdicts and compels the court to grant “rules to show cause!” Mr. Brougham may, at first, appear to form an exception to the doctrines we have endeavoured to establish; but, on attentive consideration, will be found their most striking example. True it is, that this extraordinary man, who, without high birth, splendid fortune, or aristocratic connexion, has, by mere intellectual power, become the parliamentary leader of the whigs of England, is at last beginning to succeed in the profession he has condescended to follow. But, stupendous as his abilities, and various as his acquisitions are, he does not possess that one presiding faculty—imagination, which, as it concentrates all others, chiefly renders them unavailing for inferior uses. Mr. Brougham's powers are not thus united and rendered unwieldy and prodigious, but remain apart, and neither assist nor impede each other. The same speech, indeed, may give scope to several talents; to lucid narration, to brilliant wit, to irresistible reasoning, and even to heart-touching pathos; but these will be found in parcels, not blended and interfused in one superhuman burst of passionate eloquence. The single power in which he excels all others is sarcasm, and his deepest inspiration— Scorn. Hence he can awaken terror and shame far better than he can melt, agitate, and raise. Animated by this blasting spirit, he can “bare the mean hearts” which “lurk beneath” a hundred “stars,” and smite a majority of lordly persecutors into the dust . His power is all directed to the practical and earthy. It is rather that of a giant than a magician; of Briareus than of Prospero. He can do a hundred things well, and almost at once; but he cannot do the one highest thing; he cannot by a single touch, reveal the hidden treasures of the soul, and astonish the world with truth and beauty unknown till disclosed at his bidding. Over his vast domain he ranges with amazing activity, and is a different man in each province which he occupies. He is not one, but Legion. At three in the morning he will make a reply in parliament, which shall blanch the cheeks and ap
pal the hearts of his enemies; and at half past nine he will be found in his place in court, working out a case in which a bill of five pounds is disputed with all the plodding care of the most laborious junior. This multiplicity of avocation, and division of talent, suit the temper of his constitution and mind. Not only does he accomplish a greater variety of purposes than any other man—not only does he give anxious attention to every petty cause, while he is fighting a great political battle and weighing the relative interests of nations —not only does he write an article for the Edinburgh Review while contesting a county, and prepare complicated arguments on Scotch appeals by way of rest from his generous endeavours to educate a people—but he does all this as if it were perfectly natural to him, in a manner so unpretending and quiet, that a stranger would think him a merry gentleman who had nothing to do but enjoy himself and fascinate others. The fire which burns in the tough fibres of his intellect does not quicken his pulse, or kindle his blood to more than a genial warmth. He, therefore, is one man in the senate, another in the study, another in a committee room, and another in a petty cause; and consequently is never above the work which he has to perform. His powers are all as distinct and as ready for use as those of the most accomplished of Old Bailey practitioners. His most remarkable faculty, taken singly, the power of sarcasm, can be understood, even by a Lancaster jury. And yet, though worthy to rank with statesmen before whom Erskine sunk into insignificance, and though following his profession with zeal and perseverence almost unequalled, he has hardly been able to conquer the impediment of that splendid reputation, which to any other man must have been fatal : These great examples are sufficient for our purpose, and it would be invidious to add more. Without particularizing any, we may safely affirm that if the majority of successful advocates are not men of genius, they are men of very active and penetrating intellect, disciplined by the peculiar necessity of their profession to the strictest honour, and taught by their intimate and near acquaintance with all the casualties of human life, and the varieties of human nature, indulgence tofrailty and generosity to misfortune. It is impossible to estimate too highly the value of such a body of men, as